Triathlon Lingo


Like any sport, triathlon has its own language and if you don’t know it, conversing with a seasoned triathlete can be a bit confusing. Not to worry though, Enduranerd is here to help!

Below are some of the more common terms:

70.3: Distance in miles of a half distance triathlon

* Note: 70.3™ as it pertains to triathlon is trademarked by the World Triathlon Corporation©

140.6: Distance in miles of a full distance triathlon

AG: Age Group

Aid Station: Locations that are spaced throughout the bike and run sections where participants can receive fuel, hydration and first aid

AT: Anaerobic Threshold

Beach Start: Participants start on the beach and run into the water

Body Marking: Race numbers written on the arms and legs of triathlon participants

Bonk: Also called “hitting the wall”. Occurs when the glycogen stores in the body are empty and the athlete suffers extreme fatigue and the body essentially shuts down

Brick: A workout that consists of running directly after cycling

Buoy: Large orange cones that mark the swim course

Catch: A swimming term that refers to the arm position once it enters the water to ‘grab’ as much water as possible.

Chamois: The pad in bike or triathlon shorts

Chip: An electronic chip that tracks the athlete throughout the race

Chip Time: The time from when an athlete begins their race to the time they finish

Change Tent: Location in Ironman® events where competitors can change clothes in

Chop: Refers to rough water conditions

Chute: Sometimes called the “finishing chute”. This is the area directly after the end of the race that athletes funnel into

Deck: The area around a swimming pool

Draft: To swim, bike or run behind another person to save energy

Draft Legal: A triathlon that allows participants to draft on the bike portion of the event

Dropped: If a rider cannot keep up with a group of riders and has been left behind, they have been “dropped”

DNF: Did Not Finish

DNS: Did Not Start

DQ: Disqualified

Dryland: A swimming term that infers ‘Dryland Training.’ Refers to any type of strength training or form-based drills performed out of the water

Duathlon: Multisport event that is similar to a triathlon but the legs are – Run, Bike, Run

Fartlek: Type of running workout that integrates random speed changes. It’s a Swedish word meaning “Speed Play”

Floating Start: Competitors start in the water without their feet touching the ground

Full: Full distance triathlon

Gait: Denotes the form of a runner and in particular, the legs

Gun Time: The time from the start of a race to the time an individual finishes

Half: Half distance triathlon

HR: Heart rate

HRM: Heart rate monitor

IM: Ironman®

Kick (Running): Used to describe the sprint to the finish line

LT: Lactate Threshold

Marshall: Individuals on the course to ensure the safety of the participants as well as to ensure all participants follow the rules

Mat: Refers to timing mats that record the time of competitors in the transition areas as well as the three-sport sections. The mats “read” the chip attached to each participant

Mechanical: Used to denote a problem with the bicycle (i.e. flat tire)

MDot: Trademarked logo of Ironman

No Drop Ride: A bike ride that will not leave any rider behind

Oly: Used to denote an Olympic distance triathlon

OWS: Open Water Swim – Pertains to swimming outside of a pool environment

Paceline: A formation of a line of cyclists used to save energy by drafting

Pack: Group of runners, cyclists or swimmers

Peloton: A pack of cyclists

Pick Ups: Short bursts of speed or accelerations during a run

Plyos: Short for “Plyometrics”, meaning explosive, jumping style movements. Meant to build power

PR: Personal Record (i.e. best time at a specific distance event)

RPM: Revolutions Per Minute (cycling)

SBR: Swim, Bike, Run

Sin Bin: These are penalty areas (tents) where competitors are stopped for a set amount of time if they were caught committing a penalty on the cycling course (i.e. illegal drafting)

Spin: Easy bike ride, or pedal fast in a low gear

Sprint: Sprint distance triathlon

SR: Stroke Rate (swimming)

Strides: Short sprints often done prior to, or after a run

T1: Transition One

T2: Transition Two

T-Pace: Swimming term that refers to ‘Threshold Pace’

Trainer: Commonly used to denote an apparatus that allows an individual to ride their bike inside

VO2: Commonly refers to the “VO2 Max Test or one’s aerobic capacity based on the test

VT: Ventilatory Threshold

Watts: Refers to power output when cycling

Wave: Groups of triathletes starting the swim at the same time. Typically grouped by AG’s.

Wetsuit Stripper: Person at the end of the swim to help competitors get out of their wetsuits

And there you go… now you’re ready to engage in some tri talk!

Rick Prince

Rick Prince

Founder/Director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA).

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